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Motor development in 9-month-old infants in relation to cultural differences and iron status



Motor development, which allows infants to explore their environment, promoting cognitive, social, and perceptual development, can be influenced by cultural practices and nutritional factors, such as iron deficiency. This study compared fine and gross motor development in 209 9-month-old infants from urban areas of China, Ghana, and USA (African-Americans) and considered effects of iron status. Iron deficiency anemia was most common in the Ghana sample (55%) followed by USA and China samples. Controlling for iron status, Ghanaian infants displayed precocity in gross motor development and most fine-motor reach-and-grasp tasks. US African-Americans performed the poorest in all tasks except bimanual coordination and the large ball. Controlling for cultural site, iron status showed linear trends for gross motor milestones and fine motor skills with small objects. Our findings add to the sparse literature on infant fine motor development across cultures. The results also indicate the need to consider nutritional factors when examining cultural differences in infant development. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 53:196–210, 2011